It came up because the Dodgers were playing in a game to benefit the Christina-Taylor Green Memorial Foundation, named after the nine year-old victim — and daughter of Dodgers scout John Green — of the Tucson shooting which involved Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. And after expressing some hesitance to get into the matter, Don Mattingly did offer his opinion to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times:
“Politics now?” Mattingly asked. “I don’t know if I really want to get into it. I’m just not a gun guy. I never hunted as a kid. So I’m not much for the topic. I know we have coaches who love them; they think it’d be crazy if they weren’t allowed to have them … I don’t see any need for assault rifles,” he said. “It doesn’t make any sense for me for a guy to have an assault rifle in his house. If you ask me my personal opinion, I would definitely be against assault rifles, any kind of weapons that you’re able to fire off that many rounds at one time. It doesn’t make any sense. In the military, maybe.”
If I had to guess I’d say that baseball players, as a group, are far less likely to hold this view than the general public simply because there are so many hunters among their ranks. So, yes, this is a bit surprising, even if it is sorta beside the point.
After 16 years in the majors, longtime Tigers DH Victor Martinez capped his career with one final start at Comerica Park. Although there are seven games remaining in the club’s regular season schedule, Martinez said he felt he owed it to the fans to record his final at-bat at home. He’ll still cheer the rest of the team on from the dugout when they hit the road for their last six-game stretch on Monday, though he’s not expected to slot into the lineup at any point during their back-to-back away series against the Twins and Brewers.
In order to commemorate the occasion, the Tigers arranged a pregame ceremony to celebrate the veteran infielder’s seven years with the team, during which they presented him with Topps baseball cards, a recliner, a pair of boots, and a saddle, among other honors. Martinez also put in a special request to play first base, a position he hadn’t manned in over two years.
The 39-year-old didn’t waste a single minute of his final start in the majors. He deftly handled an inning-ending out in the top of the first, then laced a rare infield single to short in his first and final at-bat of the afternoon, beating the throw to first and advancing Nicholas Castellanos to second base in order to set up the Tigers’ first run: a two-out RBI single from Niko Goodrum that brought Castellanos home to score.
“I think that at-bat was the perfect at-bat to describe my career,” Martinez told reporters after the Tigers wrapped a 5-4 win over the Royals. “I had to sweat it out. I had to sweat it out the whole way. I had to grind it. That was my whole career.”
Following the hit — and the standing ovation that greeted it — the switch-hitter was promptly replaced by pinch-runner Ronny Rodriguez, who subbed in at second base in the top of the second while Goodrum shifted from second to first base. Taking Saturday’s performance into account, Martinez polished off his big league career with a lifetime .295/.359/.455 batting line, 423 doubles, 246 home runs, 1,178 RBI, and 28.4 fWAR across 1,973 games and three separate stints for the Indians, Red Sox, and Tigers. His accomplishments at the plate have been decorated with five All-Star nominations, two Silver Slugger Awards, and the designated hitter-exclusive Edgar Martinez Award following a career-best campaign in 2014.